Kent State extends its horizons

Maria Nann

Board of Trustees votes to connect university to downtown, Cleveland, Turkey

NORTH CANTON – The Board of Trustees moved to extend Kent State’s influence locally, regionally and internationally at yesterday’s meeting at Kent State Stark Campus.

Kent State is purchasing land on College Street for future student use.

The Cleveland Urban Design Collaborative is moving from its current home in the Pointe Building to property owned by PlayhouseSquare.

Van Campen Hall renovations will make way for a Turkish studies program.

“Kent State, as one of the four corner universities, has a charge to affect all of Ohio, the nation and potentially the world,” President Lester Lefton said. “It’s very important for our students to be exposed to international ideas, to be able to compete globally.”

The purchase of the College Street property is part of an initiative to connect Kent State to downtown Kent with the long-term goal of attracting more students from outside Northeast Ohio, said Yank Heisler, interim vice president for business and finance.

The $125,000 investment includes a house, which currently sits on less than an acre, Heisler said. However, the university plans to tear down the house because it is in bad shape.

Heisler said the land will eventually be used for student activities, which is part of the university’s effort to attract more people to Kent State by extending campus life.

“We may have an empty lot for a while,” Heisler said. “This is part of a long-term plan that connects the campus to downtown.”

The board also gave authorization to finish a deal to move the Cleveland Urban Design Collaborative to PlayhouseSquare.

This program gives graduate architecture students an opportunity to do real-world work, Heisler said. Students in the design program do public service work.

The program, which currently houses 25 graduate students in the Pointe Building in Cleveland, will be moving to a less expensive location in Playhouse Square. Because the lease for the Pointe Building is up in March, the university extended the lease for six to 12 months before the move.

“This location in PlayhouseSquare really says to Cleveland, in a firm way, ‘We are a part of Cleveland, and we’re not going away,'” Lefton said.

The new location will get Kent State’s name in the middle of downtown, Heisler said.

“It’s a real win for Kent State, I think, if we can pull this off,” Heisler said. “To have that great of architecture there, where students are going into design, is going to be terrific.”

The board also approved a measure that will connect Kent State to the international community.

Bahcesehir, a private Turkish university, plans to put a study program in Kent State’s Van Campen Hall. Bahcesehir will pay for an estimated $2.7 million in renovations to the hall. After renovations are completed, Van Campen will be a combination of housing and classroom spaces for Turkish students, in addition to a small administrative division.

“It’s very good for them (Bahcesehir) because they get to be this international university,” Lefton said. “It helps us in the same way.”

Contact academic affairs reporter Maria Nann at [email protected].